Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

June Qualification Grant Awarded to Mama Joy Foods

Sunday, July 9th, 2017

Recently, we announced our June finalists. Now we’re thrilled to introduce you to 1 of our 2 June Qualification Grant winners, Joy Leeper, Owner of Mama Joy Foods.

Read on to learn about her business, her advice for other female entrepreneurs, and more…

WN: How did Mama Joy Foods come about?

JL: In 2012, our oldest daughter (who was 10 at the time) was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease. After 2 years of being on immune suppressing medication and months of high dose steroids, we were seeing no improvement to her health. In 2014, her pediatric gastroenterologist started talking about putting her on a new medication and possibly doing surgery. As her parents, we were not comfortable with either of these options. We started researching alternatives to medication and learned of a certain diet for people like our daughter. 

After one year of our daughter being on this diet, we took her in for her annual checkup with her pediatric gastroenterologist. A series of blood tests is always mandatory after her appointments and when we received her test results, we were very happy! They were the best results (meaning all of her tests were within “normal” range) we have had since before her diagnosis. At that moment, we knew that this diet was a forever diet for her.

Mama Joy

Making her foods required a lot of time and energy. It was preventing me from spending quality time with my family while working full time. So, in 2015, I quit my corporate job to stay home with our son. This also allowed me the time necessary to make her all the foods she enjoyed and to try new recipes for her! 
A few months into my new life as a stay-at-home mom, I thought about the struggles I went through while working full time. It was almost impossible to find ready-made, natural food for her to enjoy. My family encouraged me to start my own business so that other families can have yummy foods to help support their diets. All of my foods are Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free and Grain-Free. Most of my foods are also Paleo and Vegan Friendly.

WN: What type of response have you received from consumers?

JL: Going through the process of starting my business has been very rewarding. I performed market testing at a few farmer’s markets and the response was overwhelmingly positive! I sold out at almost every market! My favorite story is from a family with three young children. I saw them looking over all my food and whispering to each other. They came up to me with HUGE smiles on their faces. They had decided to buy a package of pumpkin bars. The kids informed me they all had a dairy allergy and were so excited to see something they could eat at the farmer’s market. It brought tears to my eyes! Even people who do not have any food sensitivities have loved my foods. They love that I use very few ingredients and those ingredients are natural. My slogan is “Taste how good being healthy can be!”

WN: What type of interest have you received from grocery stores and restaurants?

JL: At one of my first farmer’s markets, I was approached by the owner of a local bakery/coffee shop. She had heard about my company from other people around the market and learned that all of my foods are Gluten-Free. Since local bakeries and grocery stores do not have the capability of making baked goods that are Gluten-Free, my foods appeal to these stores, as they still need these options for their customers. Since then, I have worked to get nutritional content and sales sheets ready so I can pitch my foods around the Eastern Iowa area. I will be hitting the pavement the middle of July. I will pitch Mama Joy Foods to the stores where I think customers will want to purchase my baked goods.

WN: What are your long-term goals with Mama Joy Foods?

JL: My goal is to be in twelve grocery stores, coffee shops and restaurants by the end of 2017. I am starting with two of my best-selling cookies: our Sweet as Sugar Cookies and our Chocolate Chip Cookies. If I reach my goal, I will look to open my own commercial kitchen so I can start expanding and selling more of my products.

WN: Where can people purchase your products?

JL: Currently, I sell my foods online at www.mamajoyfoods.com.

Soon, I hope customers will be able to find my foods at New Pioneer Co-op, Natural Grocers, in the Hy-Vee Health food section, and at local coffee shops and restaurants in the Cedar Rapids and Iowa City areas. In a few years, my dream is to be in Whole Foods Markets.

WN: What advice would you give to other female entrepreneurs?

JL: I suppose most people would say, never give up on your dream if you truly believe in your product. What I would say is, starting your own business is really hard work, but totally worth it. I understand why people say their business is “their baby.” Having children is hard work, but the amount of pride you feel when they succeed is amazing! The same is true for your business. Watching people taste your food and smile when they try it for the first time, makes my heart soar! I still get teary eyed when children with food sensitivities are so grateful for my food. I also love learning new things. So, starting my business really satisfied my intellectual curiosity. There was a point though, where I had no idea what I needed to do next. Partnering with the Small Business Development Center was one of the smartest things I have done for my business. I truly cannot say enough about the staff there! They have been so supportive of Mama Joy Foods and have really helped me believe in myself as a business owner.

WN: Do you have anything else you’d like to share about Mama Joy Foods?

JL: Our daughter getting Crohn’s Disease was one of the worst and best experiences for our family. It is something she will always have and is something she has to think about on a daily basis. There are moments when she asks, “Why me mom?” It is in those moments when I am reminded of everything we have learned and how we have changed (for the better) as a family. It was through our struggles that we have learned the power of food, how to have the strength to do what is right for our family, and how to start a business to help others in similar circumstances. If I could take away her Crohn’s Disease, I would, but I am proud that we turned our struggles into delicious cookies!

Yoga2Sleep is our April Qualification Grant Recipient

Friday, May 5th, 2017

Earlier this week we announced our April finalists. Now, we’re thrilled to finally introduce you to our April Qualification Grant winner, Pamela Stokes Eggleston, Founder of Yoga2Sleep.

Read our interview with Pamela below to learn more about her and her business.

aloo
Pamela Stokes Eggleston
Yoga2Sleep

WN: Talk about the purpose of Yoga2Sleep and your motivation behind the business.

Pamela: To understand why I chose (or why it was chosen for me by the Universe) to create Yoga2Sleep, I need to share my story. I am the daughter of an Air Force veteran and granddaughter of an Army veteran who served in WWII. And for close to 15 years, I’ve been a veteran caregiver to my husband, an Army veteran and three-time Purple Heart recipient who was initially pronounced dead only to survive his visible and invisible wounds during two OIF tours. His PTSD and my subsequent PTSD produced sleep deprivation for the both of us….and I LOVE sleep. And I LOVE yoga….so Yoga2Sleep was born!

My caregiving journey has been an arduous challenge; some days I didn’t know how we were going to make it. I still don’t. It’s a day to day journey. I suffered in silence as many caregivers do. I struggled with my “new normal.” All I loved – yoga, gardening, reading, writing – dropped to the side. Alas, it was these hardships and an invitation to the Maryland State Caregiver Support Coordination Council that ignited my passion: I cofounded a military families national nonprofit, I created a caregivers program for the organization, and I began teaching and sharing yoga and mindfulness with veterans, service members and their families, most recently using my Yoga2Sleep platform.

WN: Where is your business located? Describe the place(s) you operate in.

Pamela: Yoga2Sleep is located in the Washington DC metropolitan area, serving Maryland, DC, Virginia and globally. I work within several yoga studios, but also within wellness centers and corporate offices.

WN: What qualifications do you have as a Yoga instructor?

Pamela: I am a 500+ hour yoga instructor and meditation teacher, including certifications in yoga therapy and prenatal yoga, with a focus on everyday mindfulness and yoga for all.

WN: What are your goals for the future? How will you use the April Qualification Grant to reach them?

Pamela: I’d love to do a radical self care retreat for women with trauma and sleep deprivation. Women are more sleep deprived than men (surprise!) and we don’t take care of us enough.

WN: What’s your advice for other women entrepreneurs?

Pamela: Create, create, create! It’s your natural state; don’t worry about what has not been done. Develop it yourself and do it. Don’t allow naysayers’ messages to slip into your psyche; silently dismiss and focus. Don’t tell everybody your plans – many will not be able to handle your truth – everything isn’t for everybody! Do focus on at least ONE thing towards your venture daily.

Thanks for reading. Remember that we award a grant each month – if interested, please apply today.

aLoo is our March Qualification Grant Recipient!

Monday, April 17th, 2017

Last week announced our March finalists and now we’re happy to finally introduce you to our March Qualification Grant winner, Aarti Mehta , Founder of aLoo.

Read our interview with Aarti below to learn more about her and how she came up with the idea for aLoo

aloo
Aarti Mehta MD
aLoo
Website

WN: For those who don’t know what aLoo is, would you mind telling us a bit about your business?
AM: aLoo is a patent pending device that prevents backwash from re-entering the infant bottle during feeding. The product is a one-way valve and reservoir that can be placed in the cap of the baby bottle when preparing for feeding. As I started bottle feeding, I realized that my daughter’s saliva would flow back into the bottle and felt guilty saving the remaining liquid to reuse knowing that the milk may contain bacteria from her backwash. This was quite a dilemma for me because it was challenging to produce ample breast milk AND I was scheduled to return to work soon. I was determined to use every drop of this liquid gold and it was this realization made me want to find a solution.

WN: Can the nipple & Cap be used with any bottle?
AM: I quickly learned that there are so many innovative bottles on the market and parents/babies have their favorite brand. Knowing that there are challenges transition from breast to bottle, we did not want to exclude anyone merely because of bottle brand loyalty. Our initial goal is to make the device compatible across multiple bottle brands. Currently, our device is compatible with Philips Avent and we are planning to create more sizes that will work well with other brands (Dr. Brown’s, Medela, Tommee Tippee and Playtex) soon.

WN: I see your aLoo is in the testing phase. Do you an expected time-frame of when you hope to release your product to the public?
AM: Yes, we have a working prototype! We produced a prototype that fits Philips Avent and have had a microbiological lab test the device to see if it works. I am happy to say that they confirmed our device prevents over 99% of the bacteria from flowing back into the bottle! We have been sharing the device with consumers for initial feedback and are launching a Kickstarter campaign soon to raise funds to manufacture aLoo on a larger scale. If our campaign is successful, we should be able to start selling aLoo this summer!

WN: Do you plan to sell your product exclusively online or do you hope to sell to other retail stores?
AM: The ultimate goal will be to offer our product in retail stores (BuyBuy Baby, Babies R Us, Target) and be included in expecting parents’ baby registries. However, initially we will focus on solely offering aLoo online through our website: http://www.myaloo.com/ and possibly through Amazon.

WN: Do you have any advice for other aspiring mompreneurs?
AM: This is the advice my business partner gave me (this is exactly why he is my business partner!) “Make sure that the product or service you are offering is something you believe in.” It takes a lot of determination and hard work to develop an idea into reality. Do not be afraid to share your idea with others and ask for help. I was amazed by how many people were willing to provide their guidance and help me navigate through the challenges of starting a business. For me, it was helpful to network and talk to other entrepreneurs to share struggles and learn from each other. I was overwhelmed at how helpful the community has been and realized there are many resources that make launching a business more efficient than it was many years ago!

If you’d like to vote for Aarti to win the $1,000 Amber Grant, you can vote for her here.

And thanks for reading! Remember that we award a grant every month – if interested, please apply today.

We’ve announced our $1,500 Amber Grant winner!

Wednesday, January 25th, 2017

Last year we came up with a new way to give back grants to the WomensNet community. This allowed us to continue awarding monthly Grants of $500, as selected by our WomensNet judges. But it also gave us the opportunity to award an additional $1,000 grant to one of our 12 monthly winners, called The Amber Grant.

Not too long ago we narrowed down our Amber Grant finalists to three great companies; NAJMTEK, GloveStix, and Yellow Scope. Choosing between these three women and their companies was extremely tough but after much debate we have finally chosen our second annual Amber Grant Winner.

Congrats Krista Woods, founder of GloveStix!

Krista Woods

Watch Krista’s video to learn more about GloveStix & how her product helps clear up the smelly situation most people have in their mud rooms.

 

As always, thank you for reading! Remember we award a grant every month – if interested, here’s the link to apply!

Stay tuned: We will be announcing January’s Qualification Grant finalists very soon!

Our 2016 Amber Grant Finalists

Wednesday, January 18th, 2017

After much debate amongst our Advisory board we’ve narrowed down our Amber Grant Finalists to Three. Congrats to NAJMTEK, GloveStix, and Yellow Scope! Please read to learn more about these inspiring women and their businesses.

NAJMTEK

 

Applicant: Sophie Ennadi – Visit NAJMTEK’s website here.

When Sophie’s daughter was six years old she was diagnosed with dyslexia. With Sophie’s strong background in engineering alongside 12 years of experience in product development she saw this as an opportunity. She wanted to create an adaptive and innovative learning tool for dyslexic people, to help them learn, read, and work without having dyslexia in the way. This is how the Ubook was created.

The UBook is the first all-in-one multi-touch laptop, an interactive technology that includes the first ever neurological “sign alphabet”, and assistive apps, especially designed for people having dyslexia to help them learn, work, and communicate with others without having dyslexia in the way.

Glove Stix

 

Applicant: Krista Woods – Visit GloveStix’s website here.

Have you ever caught a whiff of old sports gear? It smells awful. The smell is caused by bacteria that lives in the humid air of your sports gear. And every time you sweat… that odor increases. Most types of gloves and shoes are primarily made of leather making them virtually impossible to clean without compromising the shape or comfort to the athlete. Enter, GloveStix. GloveStix, are a patent pending odor management system for smelly sports gear. When placed into gloves or shoes after practice or games they absorb harmful moisture, eliminate odors and inhibit 99.9% of odor-causing bacteria growth in about 24 hrs.

Yellow Scope

 

Applicant: Marcie Colledge & Kelly McCollum – Visit Yellow Scope’s website here.

Yellow Scope was founded in 2014 by scientists and moms, Marcie Colledge and Kelly McCollum. Marcie and Kelly met in 2008 at their children’s elementary school as volunteers running the school’s STEM programs, including Family Science Nights and the Science Fair. Their “aha moment” was realizing how well they work together and how passionate they both are about science, girls, and education. Over the years, this grew into an idea to build a company that would help young girls fall in love with science. Thus Yellow Scope was born! At Yellow Scope, they make rigorous, creative (and fun!) science kits for girls. Each kit is lovingly assembled by hand in Portland, Oregon.

We will be announcing our second annual Amber Grant winner very soon – Stay Tuned!

Voting has already begun for our next Amber Grant on our voting page. So please stop by there and read about our newest qualification grant winners.

September Qualification Grant Finalists

Tuesday, October 4th, 2016

AquaXI
AquaXi
Shauna Lee Young
website

Many people don’t think their own water is safe to drink, so they spend money on bottled water, which can cost up to 10,000 times the cost of tap water. Or they buy filtration solutions that may not address their particular problem. Even then, there is little to no visibility in water safety issues which may be all around your home. Water suppliers do a lot to remove pollutants, but there is also a lot they cannot do.

Enter AquaXi, a company that helps families by testing samples of their water to determine if its safe to drink. They then share the test results with you and others through a map on their website (never revealing the exact location of your home.) If your water test fails for any reason they’ll work with you to help resolve the issue at hand.

Kyrasheamedleys
Kyra’s Shea Medleys
Kyra Nicole Young
website

Kyra’s Shea Medleys is a natural and multipurpose hair and skincare line based in Los Angeles, CA. They handcraft every product in LA, to bring you hand-whipped, certified vegan and cruelty-free, heavenly-scented, and nutrient-rich line of Shea Butter Creams. All of their products promote healthy living for women, men, children, and seniors as well as all hair and skin types.

TrackPacer
TrackPacer
Alexandra Kline
website

TrackPacer is a patent-pending real-time pacing system for runners, meaning runners no longer need to look at their watch and check the splits written on their arm while you’re trying to run. Instead, they can just chase a light.

TrackPace is an LED strip along the inner perimeter of a running track that you can program on your phone to sequentially light up at your target pace. Then, all a runner has to do is chase the light and not give pacing another thought. It is the same concept as the super imposed world record line on televised running events – except the athlete can see the record line they are chasing.

Kynplex
Kynplex
Grace Xiao
website

Kynplex enables scientific companies and institutions to feature updates on a single site. This means that anyone can see a customized feed of scientific updates like research discoveries and new technologies. Kynplex uses this information to identify and suggest effective partnerships so that more research ideas can become life-saving drugs and treatments.

hoopla
My Hoopla in a Box
Chisesi August- Brooks
website

My Hoopla in a Box is a party supplier service for a low cost parties in one box. These occasions can be anything such as a super bowl party, birthday party, weddings, baby showers & more!

Congrats to our September Qualification Grant Finalists and as always, thank you for reading! Remember we award a grant every month – if interested, here’s the link to apply!

Stay tuned: We will be announcing the winner Soon!